It’s that time of year again, and I do feel like I write about this annually, but given the emails that I’ve seen come across my desk over the past month or so, with attorneys having difficulty setting up their own accounts on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (“USCIS”) website, or in the last couple of days, with attorneys having difficulties registering their clients’ for the H-1B lottery, I thought this year I’d take a little different approach. This year’s H-1B missive is how the registration process works for the H-1B lottery. (Its shelf life is only a couple of weeks, though, so look at it closely … and quickly.)
In December 2019, USCIS announced the implementation of an electronic registration requirement for employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for prospective specialty worker employees. This is now the fourth year the registration process has been available, and it opened at noon (ET) on March 1, 2023. It closes on noon (ET) on March 17, 2023. These time frames are not flexible.
USCIS uses its online portal to conduct the electronic H-1B registration process. Attorneys may use their own accounts for their clients. USCIS also makes the portal available to employers new to the process so they can create their own account.
The information needed to complete the registration is pretty straightforward. While we handle this for our clients, you absolutely do not need an attorney at this point of the process. The information required is as follows:
Employer / Registrant Information:
- Legal name of the prospective petitioning company or organization.
- The assumed name (“DBA”) of the prospective petitioning company or organization, if applicable.
- Employer identification number (“EIN”) of the prospective petitioning company or organization.
- Primary U.S. office mailing address of the prospective petitioning company or organization.
- Legal name, title, and contact information (daytime phone number and email address) of the authorized signatory.
- Beneficiary’s legal name.
- Beneficiary’s gender.
- Beneficiary’s date of birth.
- Whether consideration the beneficiary is eligible for the advanced degree exemption because the beneficiary has earned, or will earn prior to the filing of the petition, a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education.
- Beneficiary’s country of birth.
- Beneficiary’s country of citizenship.
- Beneficiary’s passport number.
That’s it. Importantly, only one registration can be filed by a petitioner / employer for the beneficiary. If USCIS determines that more than one was filed, all will be invalidated.
The fee for a registration is only $10.00 (and it’s non-refundable).
None of the other requirements / filings associated with the H-1B process are required at this point (e.g., Labor Condition Application, the H-1B petition itself, and so on). That said, there are certain aspects of the H-1B process (e.g., establishing the required wage) which should be done in advance to avoid a situation where a petition is selected in the lottery but ultimately it cannot later be filed because, e.g., the employer cannot pay the required wage.
Attorneys can submit registrations for their clients, and as I indicated above, we do this all the time. There’s an additional part of the registration process required whereby the employer reviews and accepts what the attorney has prepared. Once that’s done, USCIS will notify the attorney and he or she will then file the registration.
This is where I advise my clients to sit tight and cross their fingers. (Yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds.) USCIS will notify the registrant of the status of the registration once filed (i.e., submitted), and over time (i.e., selected, not selected and denied). If a registration is selected, USCIS will notify the registrant by March 31, 2023, and the employer will then have from April 1, 2023 to June 30, 2023 to file an H-1B petition on behalf of that beneficiary.
And finally, I will tell you from experience that USCIS’s web portal is not always reliable and is cumbersome at best. Although not specific to the registration process, USCIS advises that anyone with technical issues should call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 for assistance; technical support and password resets are also available at https://my.uscis.gov/account/needhelp.
 As a reminder, an H-1B nonimmigrant visa / status may be granted to a foreign national who will perform services in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum requirement for entry into the occupation in the United States. Representative examples of specialty occupations include architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts.
 USCIS has published a proposed rule to significantly increase the H-1B registration fee so I suppose we should enjoy the “nominal” fee while we have it.
 USCIS denies registration when it determines that more than one registration has been filed by the same company for the same foreign national.